Week commencing 1 July 2019

In today's bulletin

• Prime London house prices stabilising
• Tax break offered for electric cabs

• New car market continues to deteriorate
• Calls for more independence for English cities

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Prime London house price slowdown shows signs of stabilising

The ongoing fall in prime London house prices slowed this quarter. Data from Savills published on 4 July shows that, although prices continue to fall on an annual basis, the decrease is less than half that of this time last year.
Brexit and legislative change from a new government remain concerns for would-be buyers and sellers, particularly in prime central London.
Elsewhere in the UK, prime markets showed gains for the second consecutive quarter, suggesting that these worries are having less of an impact outside the capital.

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Analysis of construction contracts indicates slowdown in housebuilding

Residential development is slowing after regional construction contracts dipped in 2018, according to analysis by Barbour ABI and the Construction Products Association (CPA).
The joint report, Regional Construction Hotspots in Great Britain 2019, shows that there was a reduction in the number of residential contracts awarded in a majority of areas across the UK last year.
Pockets of prosperity were highlighted, with the whole of London forecast for growth in the short term. In addition, Scotland and the South East enjoyed an uplift in the number of commercial, residential and infrastructure contracts awarded.

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New planning policy needed to build ‘beautiful places’

Government should promote the importance of ‘good design’ in planning policies and require developers to bring forward places rather than just homes, a new report from Policy Exchange has argued.
The report which was submitted to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission and published on 1 July calls for the Government to incentivise land owners and developers to build “beautiful places” in a bid to combat NIMBYism and deliver the homes we need.

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Modern Methods of Construction pivotal to achieving housebuilding targets

The Government risks missing its target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s if it does not embrace Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), a report by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has warned.
The report, released on 3 July, calls on the Government to increase capacity in the supply chain and ensure that the workforce is appropriately skilled, recommending closer collaboration with Homes England and training centres to develop skills programmes.
The Committee highlighted social housing as particularly well-suited to MMC as it often includes large numbers of similar homes, helping to lower costs and providing certainty of demand.

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The Government’s green reward

On Monday 1 July the Government announced a £5 million fund aimed at stimulating the development of green-home financial products in the financial sector.Included in this are green mortgages, which involve discounted rates for customers who upgrade the energy rating of their home.
Also announced was a £10 million innovation fund for industry, available to companies that design innovative ways of reducing the cost of retrofitting old housing stock.

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‘Plague of potholes’ needs long-term funding fix

A five-year funding settlement is needed to help local authorities combat deteriorating road networks, the Government Transport Committee has said.
Its latest report, released on 1 July, calls for a front-loaded deal encouraging innovation and long-term asset management strategies rather than a ‘mend and make do’ approach.
The Committee asserts that local government funding has fallen by about 25 per cent since 2010, with some councils diverting money from road maintenance to compensate for shortfalls in other areas such as social care.

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MPs join calls for a National Bus Strategy

Following an event hosted by the Campaign for Better Transport, a number of MPs have backed the group’s demand for the Government to introduce a national strategy to invest in local buses.
It is suggested that such a strategy would help grow local economies as well as reduce congestion and pollution.
Plans devised by Campaign for Better Transport include making motorways and other strategic roads more bus friendly, and delivering improvements to ticketing and journey planning.

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Government offers tax incentive for cabbies purchasing electric vehicles

New legislation will make zero-emission capable taxis exempt from higher vehicle tax rates in a bid to encourage more taxi drivers to purchase electric vehicles. The Department for Transport announced the changes on 5 July as it strives to improve air quality in busy city centres
second second second second second The news comes four days before the anniversary of the Government’s Road to Zero strategy and has been well received by the industry. It is hoped that the tax incentive will also improve uptake of the new London Electric Vehicle Company electric taxi.

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Energy and Environment

Fall in sales of low emission cars curbs Government’s net zero target’

The UK new car market declined for a fourth consecutive month in June, with demand falling by 4.9 per cent to 223,421 units, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trades (SMMT) has revealed.
Sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles fell into negative growth for the first time in over two years, marring the Government’s efforts to achieve its net zero emissions target.
The SMMT has called for long-term incentives and investment in infrastructure to encourage fleet renewal and reduce emissions.

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Investment in charging infrastructure needed says NIC

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has called on the Government to match the ambition of the electrical vehicle industry by increasing investment in charging infrastructure. On 5 July, the NIC welcomed new investment by Jaguar Land Rover into its Castle Bromwich assembly plant.
Positive electric vehicle sales figures were also celebrated; however, the Commission urged the Government to step-up efforts to develop charging infrastructure.
The NIC have called for preparations to facilitate new car and van sales reaching close to 100 per cent electric by 2030, and to support a national rapid charging network by the early 2020s.

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Other News

Manufacturing slump worst since 2013

The downturn in UK manufacturing shows no sign of abating as the IHS Markit / CIPS Purchasing Managers Index fell to its lowest level since February 2013, according to data released on 1 July. The barometer of sector sentiment fell for the third consecutive month in June as production contracted at the fastest pace since October 2012.
Stockpiling, Brexit uncertainty and the economic slowdown were all cited as factors contributing to decreases in new orders and output.

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English cities suffering due to centralism according to special report

To boost the economies of England’s regions, metro mayors should be granted more devolved powers and greater budgets, according to a special report. Commissioned by the West Midlands Combined authority, the report penned by Michael Heseltine proposes to limit what it describes as “Whitehall’s dead hand of centralism”.
The report estimates that English cities retain just 7 per cent of the income they raise, putting them far behind international peers such as New York, which retains 50 per cent of its local income.

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